Judge sides with California workers in Walmart labor dispute

Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:35pm EST
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By Mica Rosenberg

(Reuters) - An administrative law judge found Walmart threatened employees trying to organize workers at two stores in California, in a victory for workers' rights groups challenging labor practices at the retail giant.

    The ruling issued on Tuesday stems from complaints raised by workers at Walmart stores in Placerville and Richmond, California, arguing they were unfairly disciplined for trying to organize employees.

Geoffrey Carter, National Labor Relations Board Administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., told the company to stop applying pressure on employees to discourage work stoppages, adding the Richmond, California, Walmart managers told workers they would“shoot the union" and said that employees returning from a strike "would be looking for new jobs."

The judge also ordered the company to change its dress code for California employees that restricted employees' ability to wear union shirts. 

     Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, could appeal Carter's decision, but company spokesman Kory Lundberg would only say that Walmart was still evaluating its next steps.

    "We do not agree with some of the administrative law judge's conclusions," Lundberg said.   

    The decision is a victory for the campaign by OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which has been fighting for better pay and health benefits for workers at the company's more than 4,000 stores in the United States.

    While OUR Walmart is not a union that represents workers for collective bargaining, it has received extensive advice and support from the United Food and Commercial Workers union, according to Carter's opinion.   Continued...

A woman shops at Walmart as the store prepares for Black Friday in Los Angeles, California November 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn